The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued notice on a PIL seeking direction to Centre to operationalize all the provisions of the Clinical Establishments Act, 2010 and Clinical Establishment Rules, 2012, across the country. The plea filed by Jan Swasthya Abhiyan claimed the private healthcare centres and hospitals are exploiting patients and not following the uniform protocols.
The plea contended that regulation of standards in clinical establishments which had been adopted as a national policy goal by Centre nearly two decades ago, is yet to be effectively implemented across the country.
Senior advocate Sanjay Parikh, representing the petitioner, submitted before a bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana that healthcare facilities are not working properly, patients being overcharged and smaller clinics or labs don’t have trained medical personnel. Parikh emphasized more than 70 per cent patient care is provided by the private sector and less than 30 per cent patients use the public sector, and there should be standard guidelines for healthcare establishments along with treatment protocols.
The bench noted, “The Preamble says that the Act is applicable to the entire country, right?” Parikh submitted that some states have adopted it, but other states have passed similar legislations. “When Covid came, this was there. The Act clearly mentions the rates that are to be charged from the patients etc,” Parikh submitted.
Parikh submitted that his client had already sent representation to the government but there was no response. He added that 11 states and 6 union territories have adopted registration resolution and highlighted complaints in connection with over charging and hospital authorities forcing patients to purchase hospital medicines and equipment.
The bench noted that states have some mechanism regarding registering and regulating these establishments. Parikh submitted that implementation of this will be possible if notice is issued to the Centre’s standing counsel. After hearing arguments, the top court issued notice in the matter. Concluding the hearing, the Chief Justice remarked, “Let us hope the government will respond”.
The petitioner also sought direction regarding the conditions for registration which include the observance of minimum standards, display and observance of determined rates for procedures and services, compliance with the standard treatment protocol, as provided in Section 11 and 12 of the Clinical Establishments Act 2010, read with Rule 9 of the Clinical Establishment Rules, 2012. The plea argued that this should be notified and implemented to ensure affordable and quality healthcare as guaranteed under Article 21 and Article 47.